An experiment with no knead sourdough.

The other day I decided to take a stab at making pretzels again. The first time I tried, I used a cheap lye water that gave the dough a nasty taste. I ended up throwing them away. This time I used baking powder which gave me better then expected results.

However that’s not what this is about.

This second time that I made the pretzels I had injured my wrist the day before and had discovered a “no knead” pretzel recipe that intrigued me. No kneading? How does that work? From what I understood, you had to knead the dough in order to form gluten. Come to find out, you can do the same just by leaving the dough alone and giving it time. Like around 10 to 18 hours time. Depending on how warm the room is.

This new discovery made me wonder. Can I do this with other breads? Can I do this with sourdough? It was time for an experiment! I decided I wanted to make two different breads. A single sourdough loaf, and sourdough English muffins. For the English muffins I used The Little Spoon Farm Sourdough English Muffins recipe. It called for a cup of milk but all I had was dry mild powder so I adapted the best I could. Not sure if I put too much in or not? For the sourdough I just used the King Arthurs sourdough recipe.

I started by taking the sourdough starter and diluting it in the water or milk used in the recipe and then adding the dry ingredients. Once I formed a cohesive mass I left them in their bowls and covered them with cling wrap and let them set out over night.

I left them at around 6:30 pm and checked on them again the next morning about 7:00 am. Both had shown growth but I wasn’t seeing as much activity as I had hoped. I assumed that this was due to the cold night and decided to allow them to ferment longer.

After another two hours both dough’s looked like they were ready to go.

In both cases there was more activity at the top so I decided to start the pre-shaping process. First I dumped the bread dough. You can see that in both batches gluten had begun to form.

As you can tell the muffin dough formed more gluten. I can only assume this is because of the addition of sugar which fed the yeast. Both dough’s were VERY sticky. and shaping them was a struggle.

Because they were so sticky neither dough wanted to play along so I didn’t force the issue and decided to shape them as best I could. As you can see neither dough really kept their shape. I decided to let them rest for 30 min to try shaping them a little better.

After the rest I shaped them again and then gave them another 30 min rest. The dough was less sticky after the first rest but I still had to use a little flower on the table and my hands to work with it. As you can see everything kept it’s form much better.

Final rest is done. both dough’s are holding their shapes a bit better. Especially the English muffins. The bread was put into the oven and the muffins were laid out on the griddle to cook.

The English muffins were cooked for about 7 min on each side on low heat. This is only the second time I’ve made these so I’m still trying to get the timing right. The loaf was cooked at 450F for 35 min.

Once I thought the English muffins were done, I set them on a rack to be cooled. I opened one up just a few minutes later and discovered they were slightly under cooked in the center. So I stuck them in the oven for 10 min at 350f.

Here we have the final results. Both look pretty good.

Both tasted fantastic although I think the loaf could have used 5 more minutes in the oven. Not under cooked though. More like just enough. Both came out a bit denser then I expected yet had a great sourdough taste to them.

So what did I learn? First, that no kneading works. I don’t know if I would use this method every time, but if I was injured and didn’t have access to a stand mixer (which I don’t have) this would be the way I would do it. I also learned that I need to figure out how much powdered milk to add. I thought it was around 70 grams for one cup but I think that may have been too much? I also learned that sourdough English muffins take a few minutes longer to bake then yeasted ones.

All in all I’m satisfied with my progress. I made some tasty bread, and I improved my knowledge and skills along the way. To me, that’s a win.

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